Muslim Worldwide Population Explosion – A Myth

With the present population of around 1.8 billion (est. 2023), Muslims constitutes about 25% of world's population. There are some reports by different international agencies (2011) that by 2050 Muslims will outnumber Christians in the World.

By: Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi,
(Dr. Mohammed Iqtedar Husain Farooqi)
Deputy Director (Retired.), National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow (Govt. of India)

With the present population of around 1.8 billion (est. 2023), Muslims constitutes about 25% of world’s population. There are some reports by different international agencies (2011) that by 2050 Muslims will outnumber Christians in the World.

Related Stories
Black Cumin – Excellent Herbal Medicine
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: Advocate of Modern Education in India
Frankincense/Olibanum – A Scientific review
Eid Milad-un-Nabi celebrated across Karnataka
Oh, My Lord: Increase me in Knowledge (Quran)

Muslims are expected to grow twice as fast as the overall global population. It is also claimed that this growth of Muslim population will create many problems in the Islamic World including law and order as well as the break on the efforts for economic prosperity. 

But recent surveys conducted by Agencies like World Bank, United Nations Population Fund) and other International Agencies give a different picture. These surveys show that rise of Muslim population is not as fast and as dramatic as it is projected, sometimes with bad intentions.

What comes out from these surveys is that the trend of fast growth of Muslims population around the world has been checked drastically during the last three decades. Birth rate per woman has fallen sharply among Muslim communities and, therefore, their population is not increasing as speedily as some people wrongly believe.

This is largely due to the fact that literacy in Muslim world has increased, and economy of many countries has improved. Greater literacy rate is directly linked with the fall of growth of population because it is the main factor for maintaining Fertility Rate to a reasonable limit. 

Successful efforts for economic prosperity of common man (eradication of poverty), healthcare awareness, particularly for women (mother) and children, emancipation (empowerment) of women, are the other major causes for the fall of the birth rate in Muslim societies throughout the world.

As far as birth rate by per woman in Islamic World is concerned, barring few poor countries of Central Africa, most Muslim countries have shown drastic drop-in birth rates per woman from 5 to 8 births in 1960 to 1.3 to 4 births in 2023.

For instant UAE birth rate dropped from 6.97 in (1960), 5.75 in (1980), 3.92 in (1995), 1.82 in (215) to 1.4 in 2023. Likewise for Saudi Arabia birth rate was 7.2 for 1960 which declined to 2.7 in 2015 and 2.4 in 2023, a little more than the Replacement Level of 2.1. Replacement level fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next in the world in genera and developed countries in particular.

Some other steep decline records are as follows:

Bangladesh        6.62(1960), 6.63 (1980), 4.06(1995), 2.22(2015) and 1.9 in (2023)

Bahrain              6.97(1960), 5.23(1980), 3.40(1995), 2.12 (2015), and 1.8 in (2023)

Brunei                6.89(1960), 4.45 (1980), 3.08(1995), 1.90(2015) and 1.7 in (2023)

Indonesia           5.67(1960), 4.73(1980), 2.90(1995), 2.45(2015) and 2.1 in (2023)

Iran                    6.91(1960), 6.28(1980), 3.95(1995), 1.75(2015) and 1.7 in (2023)

Kuwait               7.20(1960), 5.60 (1980), 2.55(1995), 2.05(2015) and 2.1 in (2023)

Malaysia            6.38(1960), 4.20(1980), 3.44(1995), 2.11(2015) and 1.8 in (2023)

Qatar                 6.97 (1960), 6.10(1980), 3.74(1995), 2.00(2015) and 1.8 in (2023)

Turkey               6.50(1960), 4.69(1980), 2.90(1995), 2.12(2015) and 1.9 in (2023)

Detailed information regarding birth rate in Islamic world is as follows:

From 1.3 to 2.1replacement level (2023): 16 Countries:  Bosnia and Herzegovina (1.3), U.A.E. (1.4), Albania (1.4), Iran (1.7), Brunei (1.7), Maldives (1.7), Azerbaijan (1.7), Qatar (1.8), Malaysia (1.8), Bahrain (1.8), Turkey (1.9) and Bangladesh (1.9), Tunisia (2.0), Lebanon (2.1), Kuwait (2.1), Indonesia (2.1).

From 2.2 to 2.9 births rate (2023):12 countries: Western Sahara (2.2), Morocco (2.3), Saudi Arabia (2.4), Libya (2.4), Oman (2.5), Turkmenistan (2.6), Syria (2.7), Jordan (2.7), Djibouti (2.7), Algeria (2.8), Egypt (2.8), Uzbekistan (2.8) and Kyrgyzstan, (2.9). (These countries may reach the desired level within few years)

From 3 to 3.9 births per woman (2023),9 countries: Kazakhstan (3.0), Tajikistan (3.1), Pakistan (3.3), Palestine (3.4) Iraq (3.4), Yemen (3.6), Sierra Leone (3.8), Guinea-Bissau (3.8), and Comoros (3.8).

From 4 to 4.9 birth rate (2023):7 countries: Guinea (4.2), Sudan (4.3), Senegal (4.3), Mauritania
(4.3), Afghanistan (4.4), Gambia, (4.5), Burkina Faso (4.6)

From 5 to 5.9 birth rate (2023): Nigeria (5.1) and Mali (5.8)

From 6 to 6.9 birth rate (2023): Somalia (6.1) and Chad (6.1)

 (Wikipedia) ( (United Nations Population Fund)

Note: World Bank Data is slightly different as the figures of 2022

There is a strong possibility that with the increase in education standard, this declining trend will continue in the Muslim world and the coming decade will see the average replacement level reach to the desired limit of 2.1 or less.  All speculations about Muslim population “EXPLOSION” theory would fall and proved to be absolutely false.

A report in New York Times (Jan 27, 2011) under the heading ” Forecast Sees Muslim Population Leveling”, by Laurie Goodstein states that the growth of Muslim population ” will level off with more Muslim women getting educations and jobs, people migrating to cities, and living standards improving”.

He adds “the birthrate in majority-Muslim countries will come to more closely resemble the pattern in other nations”. In his opinion, “Predictions that that Europe will become a majority-Muslim “Eurabia” are unfounded”. The fact is that Fertility rate of many rich and educationally sounds Muslim countries like Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, and UAE etic already resemble that of many European countries.

But poor and educationally backward African Muslim countries like Niger and Nigeria (Christian, 49%) have still high rate of birth as stated above.

Disputing the report that world population will reach to 10.1 billion in 2100, Indian economist SanjeevSanyal claims that birth rates worldwide will fall below replacement rates in the 2020s. According to his projections, population growth will be only sustained till the 2040s by rising longevity but will peak below 9 billion by 2050. (Wikipedia)

India with its large Muslim Minority has also success story for checking the population growth. Rema Nagarajan also reports that that India has diffused the population bomb and done it without a draconian one-child policy or coercive contraception. (Times of India, Nov. 29, 2021).

One may rightly hope that with philosophy of DEVELOPMENT TO ALL, the benefit of economic prosperity and education in Muslim Societies will reach to all and no section will remain abandoned.  Hopefully the coming decade will see all round development in Islamic World and the population growth of Muslim Countries checked to the level desired i.e. 2.1.

It is also important to note that unnecessarily fall of birth rate may not be a good proposition either. China is facing a national emergency in recent past because of very low rate of births.  Now they’re working age population is shrinking and people fear serious implications. Some European countries are also facing the same serious situation. This is a matter a matter for global concern too.

Any projection that Worldwide Muslim Population Growth would be like an EXPLOSION and make Europe as “Eurabia” is FALSE and a MYTH.

Back to top button